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Word Count: 511
Ozone The Earths atmosphere is divided into many layers The lowest region the troposphere extends from the Earths surface up to about 10 kilometers in altitude Virtually all human activities occur in the troposphere Mt Everest the tallest mountain on the planet is only about 9 km high The next layer the stratosphere continues from 10 km to about 50 km Most atmospheric ozone is concentrated in a layer in the stratosphere about 15-30 kilometers above the Earths surface Ozone is a molecule containing three oxygen atoms It is blue in color and has a very strong odor Normal oxygen which we breathe has two oxygen atoms and is colorless and odorless Ozone is much less common than normal oxygen In the air we breathe there are about 10 million molecules 2 million are normal oxygen while only 3 are ozone However even the small amount of ozone plays a key role in the atmosphere The ozone layer absorbs a portion of the radiation from the sun preventing it from reaching the planets surface Most importantly it absorbs the portion of ultraviolet light called UVB UVB has been linked to many harmful effects including various types of skin cancer cataracts and harm to some crops certain materials and some forms of marine life Recently however convincing scientific evidence has shown that the ozone shield is being depleted well beyond changes due to natural processes It is caused by the release of chlorofluorocarbons CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances ODS which were used widely as refrigerants insulating foams and solvents Although CFCs are heavier than air they are eventually carried into the stratosphere in a process that can take as long as 2 to 5 years When CFCs reach the stratosphere the ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes them to break
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